|Side Story| Dracula, Death, and the Peculiar Book

There’s a very peculiar story about a man who lived among the bustling streets of London. He was several feet tall and could be picked out from a crowd, if not for his towering height alone. He often dressed formally and tied his bright orange hair back to reveal the sharp, elegant features of his face: his long, full lashes, his slender purple eyes, his perfectly shaped brows and thin lips that could speak no evil. Ion Dragos was his name, and this odd man was always interested in the supernatural world. He was an expert in the field, so much so that he taught courses on the occult in one of the most prestigious universities in England. They were night classes, which was a plus for him at the time, considering his secret identity. He was this era’s Dracula; a modern, gentle soul who brought shame to his predecessors. He didn’t mind too terribly, though, as it kept him in the good graces of the families of vampire hunters.  Folktales and legends were spread throughout the ages about these monsters and their tendency to claim their victims in the night, but Ion wasn’t the snatch-and-attack type of guy. No, instead, Ion spent a good portion of his fortune purchasing blood from blood banks. As with many vampires, the sunlight brought him immense pain; it poisoned him and forced him into dying a very slow, painful death. He found that using sunscreen was enough for him to get around during the mornings if he had to leave his apartment, but the poor lad would be very “sun sick,” as he would call it. He’d sweat profusely and cough so bad that anyone with a medical background would think he had tuberculosis. No matter what treatment they’d try, it’d be in vain. After a while, he just chatted his symptoms off as, “Death’s just really clumsy with that scythe of hers.” He wasn’t too far off.

Death, or “Hana,” as she liked to be called, was a petite goth who wore bright colors under her black cloak. She ran a lot of errands for Ion during the day if she wasn’t reaping souls of unfortunate people who died in accidents. She was very enthusiastic in spite of her drowsy appearance, and her optimism shone brightest on the darkest of nights. Hana was, as Ion put it, the little flower from Hell. Tonight, Hana came home with a most peculiar book. “Drakky, Drakky!” Hana exclaimed, more energetic than normal. “I found this book and I swear it’s talking about you!” Ion looked up from his laptop to behold the large, heavy book the little reaper slammed on the table next to his cup of coffee, causing the cup to spill its contents on the professor’s desk. Ion screamed and snatched his laptop off the desk. He managed to save it, but he couldn’t say the book was as fortunate. The poor leather-bound thing, with its ornate golden trim and elegant bindings was partially soaked with coffee. “Oooh,” Hana mumbled with a wince, “I-I’ll clean that up.”

After Death cleaned up the spillage and helped Ion set his desk right again, the two inspected the book even closer. Thankfully they managed to dry the pages with some magic, so they could read through the book without fear of ruining it. Ion pored over the inscriptions within, initially unable to understand the ethereal glyphs that lined the book’s coffee-stained pages. “All the stories and comics about my ancestors are nothing like this,” he mumbled, blinking furiously when he realized he could suddenly make out one of the passages: “’Death brought him this very tome, so that he may set the tides in motion.’ Odd, it seems to be talking about us.”

“So, are you gonna do what the book says?” Hana asked as she (quite rudely) hovered over the man’s shoulder. Ion squinted at the other side of the page, confused that the rest of the book had yet to be inscribed with more of the story. “I don’t know,” he replied, his voice trailing off as he flipped through the blank pages. “I’m curious to know if this story is being written by someone right now.”

“Oooh, this is freakin’ me out. I don’t like this thing. Let’s burn it,” Hana panted as she snatched the heavy thing off of Ion’s desk and took some of his little office trinkets with it.  “Oh shi—sorry, sorry!” the girl screamed, holding the book out in front of her. A strangely sculpted object fell from the book with a hefty “BUMP.”

With curious eyes and delicate fingers, Ion inspected the key. It was as long as his hand, and its stem was split lengthwise. The bow was intricately carved, like a crescent moon or the swirling tides that it pulls. The center of the bow glowed, as if the key itself were begging the vampire to complete it. The shape from the collar downward, even with the two key wards, reminded Ion of a kind of ritualistic dagger. “Odd. This might be a skeleton key, but it also looks like a weapon,” he muttered. Hana perked up, dropping the book on the floor and staring at the key with a mischievous glint in her eye. “Want me to stab you with it and see what it does?” she spat quickly, reaching her small hands towards the key.

“Um—no,” Ion coughed as he swat the girl’s hands away. “If this is part of a ritual, we need to consult the book and see if it has any instructions. We have to do this right.”

“Ugh, I don’t like that thing,” Hana growled. A beat of silence passed, during which the two awkwardly drank in each other’s presence. Ion had plenty of time to ponder on whether Hana was joking or not. He could use himself as a test subject, but until he could confirm what would happen in the book, he decided to treat Hana’s overwhelming excitement as a threat. Thankfully, this peculiar key was made of some kind of crystal and appeared to be anything but holy. He decided to think on it, and read into the book the next morning. “Well, Hana, I think we should both get some rest,” he suggested, testing the waters to see if Hana was thinking about making good on her promise. Hana nodded in agreement. “Yep! See you tomorrow, Drakky,” she yawned. The two headed to their separate bedrooms, Ion taking care to lock the strange book and its key away in his safe, along with his wine. He marked the book and key as two more things Hana wasn’t allowed to touch and crawled into his bed.

A little morning nap would do him just fine.

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